sye raa

‘Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy.’ (photo provided)

Let us start with the intention first. The film was planned from June 2017, about two months after the stupendous success of “Bahubali 2:The Conclusion.” It was launched a couple of months later. Clearly, the idea was to do something on a similar scale and tenor, and a story was chosen—an anonymous freedom fighter way back in the 1800s.

There had to be an emotional connect, so in came the character of Rani Laxmibai (Anushka Shetty).

But with budgets being what they are, and an ardent son making a film for his superstar father who is now 64, that was not enough. Ergo, the “Bahubali” duo of Shetty and Tamanaah Bhatia had to come in. Sudeep, a fixture in so many South films that are dubbed in or have a version in Hindi (whose role was chopped considerably in that epic) has a good role.

Amitabh Bachchan was another insurance for pan-Indian audiences, which strictly is not accurate as Bachchan primarily needs a great script and film to score. Mukesh Rishi and Ravi Kishan, staples in so many South films, are also around. What’s more, Manoj Muntashir is brought in from “Bahubali” for the dialogues.

For the music, the film goes totally Mumbai-wards. Amit Trivedi scores the below-average songs, while Julius Packiam, typically, does an above-par job of the background score.

However, all this mix of intention and execution (the action, sets and camerawork, complete with VFX), have a massive “Bahubali” hangover, a predominant feature in most history-based movies since 2017, excluding “Kesari.”

Given the kind of real stories we have seen of Bhagat Singh, Sohrab Modi’s early version of the Queen of Jhansi, and other freedom heroes like Savarkar and Bose, the presentation, hugely budgeted at Rs. 250 crore-plus, seems a tad facetious.

We are almost three decades down from the time a 35 year-old Chiranjeevi slashed enemies of the nation in the political Hindi thriller “Pratibandh” that became a hit with the pan-Indian mass. And we are in an era where variety is craved, repetitiousness abhorred, and inanities rejected, including absurd action for the genre.

Clearly, mainstream writers Parachuri Brothers and the director belong to a bygone era. The clichéd beginning shows the British discussing that Indians must be looted of their dignity and knowledge, not just the country’s wealth, reminding us less of “Lagaan” and more of the ‘70s and ‘80s villains discussing future revengeful and criminal projects with their cohorts.

Oh, yes, one of the Britishers here has a panther as a pet. Remember again those outlandish villains of that period who kept tigers and huge dogs?

The tone, the vibe, the frequcncy is set. The whole saga, believe it or not, is narrated as an inspiring tale by Rani Laxmibai to her demoralized army! In flashback!

As British cannons (and obviously guns) face “Bahubali”….Oops! Sorry!... “Sye Raa Narasimha Reddy” bows and arrows and swords and they face the wrath of Reddy (Chiranjeevi), who rules a hamlet and defies the rulers unlike his neighbors, we are also inundated with the female angle—a girl Reddy loves (Tamanaah) and another he has to marry (Nayanthara) because he already has (Confused? Watch the film and you will know!), as well as a guru (Bachchan) who will keep at him at intervals throughout, making it indeed a “special” appearance as billed. Obviously, three hours is too long a time to bear all this with a non-fuzzy brain.

On the credit side, Chiranjeevi is still in element at this age and his superhero actions will be loved by his fans. None of the rest, really, has anything special to do and just go about the motions.

So, in the end, full marks to the technical team that has done back-breaking work, while the idea of the film seems to be to wreak havoc on our brains. In short, the principal difference between this film and “Bahubali” is that the latter was an impassioned epic, while this one was the umpteenth cover-version of the action films of Salman Khan, Ajay Devgn, Sunny Deol and so on. Our rating is purely dedicated to the technicians and the bravado and continued charisma of a (in this film) handicapped Chiranjeevi.

Rating: **1/2

Producer: Ram Charan

Directed by:Surender Reddy

Written by: Surender Reddy & Parachuri Brothers

Music: Amit Trivedi

Starring: Chiranjeevi, Nayanthara, Tamanaah Bhatia, Jagapathi Babu, Sudeep, Vijay Sethupathi, Niharika,Lakshmi Gopalaswamy, Brahmaji, Ravi Kishan, Mukesh Rishi, Prudhvi Raj, Raghu Babu, Ranadheer, Sp. App.: Amitabh Bachchan & Anushka Shetty, and others.

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